Published: April 3, 2013

Faculty evolve into authors for Darwin book

Contact(s): Tom Oswald Media Communications office: (517) 432-0920 cell: (517) 281-7129

Three Michigan State University faculty members have contributed to one of the largest, most comprehensive books focusing on the life, labors and influence of evolutionist Charles Darwin.

The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Darwin and Evolutionary Thought covers Darwin’s background, his groundbreaking theory of evolution and evaluates his influence on science since the publication of his seminal work, On the Origin of Species.

Now in bookstores, it includes more than 60 essays written by some of the leading scholars in the field.

Mark Largent, associate professor at MSU’s James Madison College, said he recently received his copy of the book and thinks it’s “impressive MSU has three of its professors in this volume, which demonstrates how influential MSU is in the history and philosophy of science.”

Largent wrote the encyclopedia’s 27th chapter, which examines the influence of Darwinism in the United States and its impact on the natural sciences, social sciences and literature.

“It's interesting to me that none of us worked together on this project,” said Largent. “That is, all three of us came to it separately, and we each contributed something very different.”

Georgina Montgomery, assistant professor at MSU’s Lyman Briggs College, contributed a chapter titled “Gender.”

It examines how Victorian feminists reacted to Darwin claiming women were intellectually inferior to men and contextualizes those debates with relevant issues in both the past and present.

The other MSU contributor is Richard Bellon, Lyman Briggs College assistant professor, whose chapter looked at Darwin’s work with plants, something he focused much attention on but has been somewhat overlooked.

“He wrote several books on the topic,” Bellon said. “But in terms of his biography and his contributions in that area, it doesn’t get a lot of attention.”



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